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He was never deterred from any enterprise, nor retarded in the prosecution of it, by superstition.Religione; that is, the omens being unfavourable. When a victim, which he was about to offer in sacrifice, made its escape, he did not therefore defer his expedition against Scipio and Juba. And happening to fall, upon stepping out of the ship, he gave a lucky turn to the omen, by exclaiming, "I hold thee fast, Africa." To chide the prophecies which were spread abroad, that the name of the Scipios was, by the decrees of fate, fortunate and invincible in that province, he retained in the camp a profligate wretch, of the family of the Cornelii, who, on account of his scandalous life, was surnamed Salutio.
When at any time his troops were dispirited by reports of the great force of the enemy, he rallied their courage, not by denying the truth of what was said, or by diminishing the facts, but, on the contrary, by exaggerating every particular. Accordingly, when his troops were in great alarm at the expected arrival of king Juba, he called them together, and said, "I have to inform you that in a very few days the king will be here, with ten legions, thirty thousand horse, a hundred thousand light-armed foot, and three hundred elephants. Let none of you, therefore, presume to make further enquiry, or indulge in conjectures, but take my word for what I tell you, which I have from undoubted intelligence; otherwise I shall put them aboard an old crazy vessel, and leave them exposed to the mercy of the winds, to be transported to some other country."
In the service of his clients, while yet a young man, he evinced great zeal and fidelity. He defended the cause of a noble youth, Masintha, against king Hiempsal, so strenuously, that in a scuffle which took place upon the occasion, he seized by the beard the son of king Juba; and upon Masintha's being declared tributary to Hiempsal, while the friends of the adverse party were violently carrying him off, he immediately rescued him by force, kept him concealed in his house a long time, and when, at the expiration of his praetorship, he went to Spain, he took him away in his litter, in the midst of his lictors bearing the fasces, and others who had come to attend and take leave of him.
It would be of little importance, as well as disgusting, to add to all this an account of the manner in which he treated his relations and friends; as Ptolemy, king Juba's son, his cousin (for he was the grandson of Mark Antony by his daughter SeleneSelene was the daughter of Mark Antony by Cleopatra.), and especially Macro himself, and Ennia likewise,See c. xii. by whose assistance he had obtained the empire; all of whom, for their alliance and eminent services, he rewarded with violent deaths. Nor was he more mild or respectful in his behaviour towards the senate. Some who had borne the highest offices in the government, he suffered to run by his litter in their togas for several miles together, and to attend him at supper, sometimes at the head of his couch, sometimes at his feet, with napkins. Others of them, after he had privately put them to death, he nevertheless continued to send for, as if they were still alive, and after a few days pretended that they had laid violent hand